Five by nine foot layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by zachary, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. zachary

    zachary Member

    alright i was wondering if anyon can help me build a layout ona f5x9 table toop i would like to have a lot of swichting and a loop 50s to modern timeframe thanks for any help zachary f
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Hi Zach: My best suggestion would be to find a copy of one of the many books on small model railroads. Four by eight seems to be the most popular size but if you have the room, I don't see any reason to stick with the four by eight size. I don't have any way to send track plans but I'm sure someone else will have suggestions and the computer equipment to send them.
  3. n2trains

    n2trains Member

    Taking into effect what the previous person wrote:

    I have found that 4x8 is the best, since 4x8 plywood is easy to come by. Most others have to be cut/special ordered, which can result in a big pain in the you know what. Either way, I also found that taking a track plan from a book and adding your own variation on it can lead to a completely new track plan (even though it may not look ANYTHING like the original in the book) and potentially a new layout. I have done that a couple times and have had pretty good success, but of course I haven't been able to construct one seeing as I don't have the room :( *tear*
  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    Your minimum radius is going to be the key issue as to what type of design will work for 5x9. If you stick with '50s era with no or "shorty" passenger cars and small steam and/or early diesel, 18" radius curves will work pretty well. There are several designs for both point-to-point and loop layouts specifically for 5x9 in HO.

    If you want to run larger equipment, you need bigger radius curves. In that case, taking a 4x8 plan and redrawing it with 22" radius curves would be about the best you can do. Here's one of my favorite 4x8 plans which has both continuous run and point-to-point branch line action. It's called Plywood Summit Lines (Atlas plan #36).
    View attachment 30795
    As I said, you would need to redraw this using software such as Atlas RTS (free download). Or, build your table and lay it out full size with actual track on the table. Then cookie cutter the raised sections of the table. The other option is to live with the 18" radius curves and add 9" worth of straight on each side to various tracks. The last has the advantage of moving track away from the table edges.

    If you want more than 22" radius curves, you can go up to about 26-28" radius curves by building a simple oval with some industries and spurs inside the oval. See Harold Minkwitz's great track plan ( for a 4x8 that could be redone with the larger curves. Note that you would need to use Walters curved turnouts for one end of each of the passing tracks to get the maximum curve radius.

    Hope this helps

    Attached Files:

  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Not having an Atlas plan book, I've never seen that plan. I'll have to remember it - it looks interesting.

    Maybe you should try looking in old plan books, and by old, I mean 50 years old or so. 5x9 tabletop ("island") layouts were built fairly often back then.
  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    5x9 feet is also the standard size for a ping-pong table, so if you have a ping-pong table you have a good basis for a 5x9 layout. They give a little more "room to breathe" than a 4x8, a bit wider curves, a bit more room for switching. Reaching the middle of the table can be a problem but if you put a scenic divider in the middle it's not really a big issue.
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    A 4x8 plan can be adapted by skewing it on the 5x9 - this eliminates the tracks parallel to the table edge, but adds a lot of scenic space -- but leaves the old sharp curves.
    Oh, well.

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